Niccolo Antonelli edges Suzuki in Andalusia

Niccolo Antonelli edges Suzuki in Andalusia 1SIC58 Squadra Corse lock out the top on Friday ahead of a stunner from rookie Raul Fernandez.

Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) took Friday honours in the Moto3™ class at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, putting in a 1:46.795 in FP2 to edge teammate Tatsuki Suzuki by just under a tenth. Reigning FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Champion and rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) locked out the top three in an impressive day on home turf, just half a tenth in further arrears.

Friday in Jerez saw sunny skies allow maximum track time at the largely resurfaced venue, and it was all change in FP2 for Antonelli and Suzuki as the duo moved up from P21 and P26 respectively. But most of the action took place in the final 20 minutes, with FP1’s fastest John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) suffering a crash at Turn 1 with just under 20 minutes of FP2 remaining and the last eight minutes of tracktime for the day then getting busy with time attacks as riders scrambled to secure a place in the top 14 and provisional entry to Q2.

Fernandez was undoubtedly one of the most impressive on Friday to take third, edging out the aforementioned McPhee who was fourth overall with his laptime from FP1. Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), currently second in the Championship although equal on points with leader Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai), completed the top five at the venue where he took his first Grand Prix win back in 2017. Fellow former winner Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) also took his first World Championship victory at the track in 2012 and won again in 2014, ending Day 1 sixth quickest in 2019.

Kömmerling Gresini Moto3 rider Gabriel Rodrigo was seventh overall and split the two VNE Snipers riders, with Tony Arbolino just losing out to the Argentine rider by 0.003 seconds. It was a case of taking it in turns for the two teams as Kömmerling Gresini Moto3 rookie Riccardo Rossi finished Friday in ninth despite a crash; his laptime the one that put him third set in the morning session. Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) locked out the top ten.

The final four who would move through with a provisional place in Q2 are Championship leader Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai), Qatar winner Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia), rookie Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) and veteran Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP). There’s more from Moto3™ at 9:00 (GMT +2) on Saturday for FP3 before qualifying from 12:35.

Friday’s fastest:
1 – Niccolo Antonelli (ITA – Honda) 1’46.795
2 – Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN – Honda) +0.093
3 – Raul Fernandez (SPA – KTM) +0.158
4 – John McPhee (GBR – Honda) +0.257
5 – Aron Canet (SPA – KTM) +0.281

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